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Benjamin Epstein

Quite a Sketch at Museum's Halloween Art Night Party

October 24, 1985|Benjamin Epstein

" Everybody's asked to borrow them for Halloween," said Newport Harbor Art Museum Contemporary Club chairman Gene White of his and Karen Cosper's bondage-style leather outfits. "Maybe we'll rent them out."

Recommended attire for Halloween Art Night on Saturday at the museum was "favorite art or artist"; White and Cosper were inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe's photograph "Man on a Leash."

"We went shopping at the Pleasure Chest in Los Angeles," White said. "We had more fun buying all this. . . ."

Asked whether Cosper shared White's enthusiasm, she answered with an emphatic yes and snapped her switch at the groveling White.

Museum employee Kathleen Costello shook her head in disbelief. "I mean, this guy is on our board of trustees! "

Tom Bridle wore a sign that said: "Je n'est pas Rene Magritte." Mike O'Neill and Mark Hild wore lighted frames around their faces. "We are the products of our parents," O'Neill explained. Leah Heidenrich was sculptor Louise Nevelson. John and Debbie Lin arrived as works by, respectively, Jackson Pollock and Matisse.

Two guests came with (or without) lopped-off ears a la Van Gogh: Robert Morrison kept his in a special box; Mark Freeman of Garden Grove kept his hidden under hospital gauze. Freeman's pregnant wife, Terry, wore a name tag that said "Mrs. Van Gogh and Vincent Jr."

Among the 75 guests was Sandra Harmon, co-author with Priscilla Presley of the current No. 1 best seller, "Elvis and Me," who attended with costume judge (and real, live artist) Fred Eversley.

"It's entirely factual, yes," Harmon said of the book. "From one woman's point of view."

Don't let the name fool you: From the Art Deco invitations to the pastry swans, "Debut," the Huntington Harbour Cancer League's annual dinner/dance/auction/fashion show, was hardly the work of neophytes.

This year, more than $85,000 was realized from the gala, attended by nearly 500 on Saturday night at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers, once again making the league the largest contributor to the American Cancer Society in the county.

County Supervisor Harriett Wieder, a Harbour resident, wasn't surprised.

"So much attention is usually put on Newport Beach," said Wieder. "But if we were to add up all the money that's raised in the Harbour for charities, I believe it would be more than any other area in the county, including Newport Beach.

"Per capita, that is."

Party planning proved innovative and intelligent: The fashion show, accompanied by wine and hors d'oeuvres, preceded dinner; auction items were interspersed with dinner courses--league members took turns as auctioneers--so interest remained high.

Models were chosen by tryout, by judges who did not know the women. No special preference was shown toward league members, according to Joanna Chase, fashion show chairwoman. "They just have to live in the Harbour," she said.

The male models, however, were league members chosen by secret ballot; 20 were nominated.

"We chose five on the basis of either their contribution or their wife's," explained Chase. Not on good looks? "No," she answered. " Oooh, I didn't say that!"

Male models were Irv Wieder, Robert Clouse, Bill Williams, Jim Harrison and Court Prowell. Among the 18 female models were Julie Renner, a professional model and former Miss Orange County; Sheri Beitner, a real estate agent who has seven children, and Ellie Engum, who has five grandchildren.

Special guest models were county cancer unit president Fred Firestone; Orange County Philharmonic Society president Eva Schneider, and Broadway actress Nikki Sahagen, daughter of league members Nick and Joyce Sahagen.

Commentator-choreographer-coordinator Dan Collins--he also sang and danced--looked pretty snappy in his black, sequined dinner jacket and backless Moresca shoes from Italy. The show featured clothes from Apropos, Stuards, Ann Stuard, Bizakis Furs and designer Escada.

Jacqueline Horan, county Cancer Society executive director, said inroads are being made with cancer prevention programs in local Latino and Southeast Asian communities.

"But they're a little reticent in some cases," she said. "Their backgrounds make them very much into home remedies. They're frightened of cancer, like a lot of us, but they don't want to hear about it."

High bid of the evening was from Bill Newhall--$13,000--for a pearl and 102-diamond necklace. A 53-carat smoky topaz pendant had to be withdrawn from the auction offerings: Missy Prowell, the auction chairwoman, had decided to forgo the responsibility of keeping the item until the party, and left it instead at the jewelry store; the store was robbed.

League president is Jean Zimmerman; Jerry Railey was program committee chairman.

Talk about egg-citing.

Bounty Circle in Huntington Harbour was blocked off Sunday morning as Chef Eugene set up shop in Lindy Smith's garage and proceeded to whip up 300 made-to-order omelets, four at a time, for supporters of La Familia Auxiliary of the Family Service Assn.

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